The Beach Boys: “Heroes and Villains”

We’ve been writing recently about Democratic heroes and villains. Let’s make it musical, with the Beach Boys.


Heroes and Villains” is a song by the American rock band The Beach Boys, co-written by the group’s leader Brian Wilson and lyricist Van Dyke Parks. Originally intended by Wilson to be the centerpiece of the ambitious but shelved album Smile, a re-recorded version of the song was released on Smiley Smile (1967). This version was also released as a single, with “You’re Welcome” on the B-side, which charted at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 2004 Wilson released a new version of “Heroes and Villains” on his solo album Smile, and in 2011 an extended mix compiled of abandoned 1966 and 1967 material appeared on the belated release of The Beach Boys’ The Smile Sessions.

This version is from The Smile Sessions. According to the YouTube uploader:

The double sided Heroes and Villains single from “The Smile Sessions”. I thought I would make it one track, instead of two separated tracks. This is probably the most complete version of Heroes and Villains released to date.


By the way, I count four-voice counterpoint in some parts of this, for example in the section starting at 0:42 and again at 4:45. You?

(For a fun live performance, check this out.)


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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2 Responses to “The Beach Boys: “Heroes and Villains””

  1. BeccaM says:

    That brings back the memories… thanks.

  2. judybrowni says:

    I prefer the original, perhaps because it was one of my favorite songs, back in the day.

    But the ’67 version had a poignancy, that’s lost in what I feel is a gunked up remix.

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